On Friday evenings many decades ago, my high school friends and I would head out to one of several restaurants along the Coosa River, where plunking down ten bucks would buy permission to eat all the fried shrimp, fried oysters, and king crab legs we could stuff down our gullets. By the time we finished dinner, our table looked like an H.R. Geiger painting, with discarded shells and spiky body parts piled in mounds on our table top.
Those days are long gone — but my hankering for king crab remains. And while we were in Juneau, Alaska — with dreams of The Most Dangerous Catch dancing in my head — I wasn’t going to miss the chance to have freshly caught king crab. (You can’t let the hard work of those burly fishermen go to waste, can you?)
And so dragged Clyde and our friends J. and R. to The Twisted Fish, a bright, elegant eatery with soaring ceilings, big windows, and lots of blonde wood. I started with the hot and sour crab soup, which comes with a big, thick, buttery crab leg floating on a sea of red curry, lemongrass, and veggies.
The garlic knot on the side wasn’t my favorite (too huge, too heavy, and not served hot enough), but the soup itself was hearty enough to have been my entire meal.
The star attraction, though, was the king crab platter: a bowl of chowder, crowned with a pound Bering Sea Red King Crab legs — pre-cracked, of course, so all I had to do was spear the succulent meat, dredge it in the drawn butter, and enjoy.
At $44.00, it’s one of the most expensive dishes on the menu — but for a splurge meal, this was a great value. We learned only later that locals actually prefer Tracy’s King Crab Shack (just footsteps away): light on ambience, but heavy on crab. Prices run about the same, though, so I comfort myself (and my wallet) by saying, “I ate my crab in comfort, instead of gnawing on shells on the pier, shivering in a cold mist.”
I did not re-enact the debauchery of my youth, but I will admit making a noise like a scalded cat when the waiter tried to snatch my picked-over platter just a little too prematurely. (Yes, I am going to sop up that chowder with that hunk of garlic knot. And yes, I know I have a problem. And may I have a to-go cup for the last of my drawn butter, please?)
If you’re in town, you’re probably on a cruise ship — and if you’re ready for a break from the buffet fare you can get for free on board, step off the boat and into The Twisted Fish (literally — it’s right there on the pier) and tuck into some delicious fresh-caught crab. (Or pretty good pizzas, apparently. And hamburgers and steaks. But who comes to Alaska for that?)